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Shipwreck: Remnants and/or Event?[edit]

If, as the article reads, shipwreck in British usage is the remains of a ship after it has sunk or been beached as a result of a crisis at sea and in American usage also refers to the event that caused the damage or destruction of the ship, what then is the correct British English wording for such an event?! This question and its answer is of particular interest to me as the two are expressed by different words in german ("Wrack" for the remnants and "Schiffbruch" for the event) and thus by separate lemmata in and I was surprised to find the de: foreign language link pointing to the other than I had exspected it to. — Nol Aders 23:47, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

In Australia, if I told friends I saw a shipwreck on the weekend, they would understand I meant the remains of an old ship. However I think I could also say I was in a shipwreck on the weekend, and be interpreted that it was lucky I had survived. In general the event itself would be described as "forty four people were killed when the ship ran aground" or "the ship foundered on rocks" or similar, not "all but two passengers were killed in the shipwreck of the Loch Ard". --Scott Davis Talk 13:27, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

The meaning of shipwreck depends on the context. It can either be a verb or a noun. If it is being used as a verb it is the destruction of a ship, if it is being used a a noun then it is the remains of a ship. KAM 13:03, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

I don't think replacing the first paragraph of the article is much of an improvement. It is more authoritative certainly, however no new information has been added and the information that a shipwreck is called a derelict or wreck has been lost. Also lost is the information that a ship becomes a wreck when the crew leaves with no intention of returning. This information is more in depth then a simple dictionary definition but isn't that the purpose of looking something up in an encyclopedia instead of a dictionary? KAM 15:14, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
My understanding is that the abandonment of a vessel by its crew makes the vessel a derelict, not a wreck. The OED defines a 'wreck' as: 1. Law That which is cast ashore by the sea in tidal waters; esp. goods or cargo as thrown on land by the sea from a wrecked, stranded, or foundered vessel. ... 3. A vessel broken, ruined, or totally disabled by being driven on rocks, case ashore, or stranded,; a wrecked or helpless ship; the remains or hulk of such. The OED defines a 'derelict' as Forsaken, abandoned, left by the possessor or guardian; esp. of a vessel abandoned at sea. Now a derelict may become a wreck, but a derelict may also be recovered (see Mary Celeste). If you think more needs to be added to the intro, find a reliable source and add it. -- Donald Albury 01:43, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Yes I see your point. It could be the difference between layman terms and maritime. This if from WRECK AND SALVAGE ACT 1996 for example WRECK: includes any flotsam, jetsam, lagan or derelict, any portion of a ship or aircraft lost, abandoned, stranded or in distress, any portion of the cargo, stores or equipment of any such ship or aircraft and any portion of the personal property on board such ship or aircraft when it was lost, abandoned, stranded or in distress.[1] Maritime does not use the term shipwreck, charts for example are marked "wreck" KAM 02:08, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

I suspect that 'shipwreck' has come into use because of generalization of 'wreck' to include non-maritime subjects. Wrecks (in the strict sense) and derelicts are subject to the same salvage laws. However, if you want to include derelicts as wrecks, then you need to add the Mary Celeste to this list twice, once for when she was recovered after being abandoned by her crew, and again many years later when she was deliberately run up on a reef near Haiti. -- Donald Albury 13:41, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

The inclusion of derelicts as shipwrecks is common [2] I not familiar with the Mary Celeste - perhaps strictly speaking it was abandoned but not truely a derelict? Perhaps call them a derelict wreck? As for wreck and shipwreck I don't have any education in linguistics as you do, however Oxford Companion to ships and the sea has no entry for shipwreck only wreck.

In a separate matter, it seems to me the most of this page is not specify about shipwrecks but "Marine Safety" The sections causes and prevention of shipwreck should be marine Safety then the remaining should stay as shipwreck. Marine safety would include prevention of shipwreck as well as prevention of collusions , grounding etc. KAM 15:21, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

- Are you proposing moving that data to a seperate page or create a new heading - If moving to a seperate page I think we need to highlight what data we should have on the shipwrecks page. I have been piclking at it quite a bit I welcome others doing the same.
My understanding of 'wreck' is a ship that is broken up or severely damaged by a collision (rock, reef, shoal, beach, another ship). A 'derelict' is a ship that is still floating, but not under any control. A derelict is not necessarily damaged, although it will eventually sink or wreck if left unattended. -- Donald Albury 22:48, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

At this point my understanding is as follows: There is a point where a vessel is no longer a vessel but a wreck. That point is when the ship become damaged to the degree that it is no longer usable as a vessel. A ship left at a berth or aground may simple disintegrate (and sink) to the point it is unusable, a ship at sea could become a wreck from damage from a storm or by striking something. A ship becomes a derelict when it is abandoned by its master and crew. If a ship is abandoned by the crew but is not damaged it becomes simply a derelict, if it was abandoned by the crew because it was damaged to the point of being unusable (a wreck) it is both a derelict and a wreck. If the owner gives up title it then becomes abandoned ( the term abandoned has more then one meaning). There are thousand of wrecks that are derelicts(still owned), or abandoned,( ownership has been surrendered) that are of little or no intrest (not historic or a recent major wreck). the term "abandoned or derelict wrecks" covers all these wrecks. Logically it is possible to have floating wrecks, ships that are no longer usable but remain afloat (likely not for long). There could also be vessel floating that are still usable (not wrecks) that are derelict (abandoned by the master and crew) for example the Mary Celeste. KAM 18:18, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

That's pretty much what my understanding is. -- Donald Albury 00:49, 9 November 2006 (UTC)


I'd like something about the laws covering shipwrecks. Finders keepers, the captain abandons ship the last,... --Error 00:44, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Have you seen salvage? --Mark.murphy 11:49, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Annoying disambiguation tag[edit]

At the moment there is a disambiguation tag at the top of this article, pointing to a reality TV show. Is it just me, or is it really annoying to come across stuff like this when trying to do some _serious_ reading? I'm very tempted to delete the disambig tag altogether... Carcharoth 22:43, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Human Remains[edit]

In the RMS Titanic no human remains have been found,yes? But plenty of bones have been found in the RMS (or is it HMS) Lusitania and HMS Empress of Ireland, and I heard somewhere, I don't know where, that the two are refered to as boneyards. Let me also say quoting User:Rumiton in the Titanic talk page that age has nothing to do with it. He used an example from when he scuba dived the SS Yongala which sank off the coast of Australia in, I believe,1909. He said he found a thigh and pelvis bones in the bridge. The water there is much more hospitable to bacteria and other organic eating organisms. I don't expect flesh on the bones. But at least shards of bone. Could there be remains in the boiler rooms of the Titanic? It'd make sense if you think about it. Please help me out with this, I have run out of ideas.--Philippe Auguste 23:29, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

The key point there is in the bridge. Exposed human remains will decay from internal bacteria or be consumed by marine life. Even if the bones remain, bones will dissolve eventually over time. The more active the conditions, the sooner this will occur. Hence it is unusual to come across exposed human remains - even so it does happen, (recently reported from the Jutland wrecks from the first world war) perhaps through odd local chemical conditions. Bodies inside a confined space can be protected, so it is likely that there will be human remains inside a submarine or other closed space. When the wreck is covered by sediments, human remains can be preserved just as other organic remains are preserved. However, the human body seems to self-destruct after death, so this generally just means bones but it has been known for flesh to have been discovered when protected by leather boots. There were skeletal remains of over 200 individuals discovered in the Mary Rose. I don't have much personal knowledge of the Titanic, but it is not protected by sediments and they have not done extensive penetration of it. You are talking about large spaces inside it, and there are some interesting biochemical reactions going on, capable of destroying the remains of the vessel. Viv Hamilton 08:27, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

images under copyright, unlicensed[edit]

The unlicensed images of the Andrea Doria and HMS Perseus do not meet criterion 8 of Wikipedia:Fair use#Policy. The images are not discussed in the article, and a single photo of a wrecked ship shows us nothing about what deterioration has occurred. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 01:11, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Marine safety[edit]

It seems to me the most of this page is not specify about shipwrecks but "Marine Safety" The sections causes and prevention of shipwreck should be marine Safety then the remaining should stay as shipwreck. Marine safety would include prevention of shipwreck as well as prevention of collusions , grounding etc. KAM 15:13, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

- Are you proposing moving that data to a seperate page or create a new heading - If moving to a seperate page I think we need to highlight what data we should have on the shipwrecks page. I have been piclking at it quite a bit I welcome others doing the same.

I started a new section, but I propose moving everything in this section to a new page KAM 16:30, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Support Marine safety as a new page - the causes section should then have a mainarticle link to this Viv Hamilton 20:54, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

Shipwrecks and the law[edit]

This section is highly POV and also incorrect. The Protection of Wrecks Act controls access - it does not deny it, and the point of protection is that it enables investigation to appropriate standards by competent people. The Cattewater wreck was protected at a time pre-dating campaigns for responsible wreck diving - taking hammers and crowbars on dives was pretty common practice at the time. The Protection of Military Remains Act is another issue altogether of course, since the wishes of survivors are considered paramount, there is no obligation (and little likelihood) of licences being granted even to the most responsible and competent archaeologists unless the MoD or the survivors feel there is a need for investigation. Viv Hamilton 21:03, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

  • I felt the section was neglected so added to it and from my reading that is what I had gotten out of the Act. I welcome you to correct any of the section you feel needs to be addressed. Thanks for your input Markco1
  • Sorry, but there are people who compalin that it stops them diving, when they have never bothered to try to get a licence to dive it. I've tweaked the paragraph and added the PMR Act. I'll try to find time to add the UNCLOS Viv Hamilton 23:25, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Inaccurate navigation[edit]

The article says "Until the twentieth century, the most sophisticated navigational tools and techniques available - dead reckoning using the magnetic compass, marine chronometer and sextant - were rather inaccurate". I can see two problems with this:

  1. Inaccurate by what standard? While they don't position you down to a few meters as GPS does (in the best case) they are adequate for safe navigation on the water, if used correctly.
  2. The wording looks incorrect -- "dead reckoning using the magnetic compass, marine chronometer and sextant". Dead reckoning is done by compass, log, and time. Marine chronometer and sextant are the tools of celestial navigation, not dead reckoning.

Paul Koning 19:11, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Good points - I've revised it Viv Hamilton 09:47, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

Red links and article inconsistent with linked content[edit]

There are a couple of red links in this article and it is not clear if these direct correctly or if the article is likely to be created. If someone has added these links intending to create the article, please explain here. Otherwise, if I cannot find a suitable alternative reference, I will remove the linking for Military wrecks, A1 at Lloyds. Additionally, the Treasure ships article is inconsistent with the reference from this article. Viv Hamilton 19:52, 27 May 2007 (UTC)


The paragraph on instability is incorrect. A ship can be stable with its meta centre above its centre of mass (a submarine can't), provided the centre of buoyancy acts outboard of the centre of gravity as the ship heels over i.e. a broad hull form at the waterline provides righting forces (unless a very severe force acts to turn the ship completely over!) Viv Hamilton 15:58, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Willfully sunk ships uninterresting?[edit]

In Types of shipwrecks:

There are also thousands of wrecks that were not lost at sea but have been abandoned or sunk. These are typically smaller vessels such as fishing vessels. These vessels can provide an interesting recreational dive but are usually of little interest to historians

Is this really true? If so, one could at least mention that there are important exceptions, like the Skuldelev ships, amongst them probably the only remainings of a viking longship (se Havhingsten fra Glendalough) and knarr (the ship used by them to travel to America). (talk) 08:48, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Like the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee? Socrates2008 (talk) 08:34, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I think the text is clearly saying that it is smaller vessels such as fishing vessels that are usually of little interest to historians. -- Donald Albury 11:33, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
No, it isn't. It would be clearly saying that if it read These smaller vessels can provide .... But are small vessels uninteresting for historians? Fishing vessels that tell something about the fishing or boat building technics of the time should be very interesting. I think that this has to be worded more carefully to be of any value. What is trivially true is not worth saying and any non-trivial meaning should be expressed explicitly. Can somebody do that or provide some source for the statement? (talk) 13:13, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
OK, I've tagged the paragraph with {{Facts}}. Let's see if someone can come up with some sources. If we can't source the paragraph, it should come out. -- Donald Albury 22:07, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Environmental Impacts[edit]

Should there be something about what happens to shipwrecks after they are sunk? I know that they can create havens for marine life but I really can't find much on the subject.--Valtism (talk) 04:38, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with Image:HMS Antelope (F170).png[edit]

The image Image:HMS Antelope (F170).png is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

  • That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
  • That this article is linked to from the image description page.

This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --09:21, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

rm edit[edit]

I've removed the following text, which didn't fit in the section it had been added (construction)

rain was also apart of shipwrecks on many occasions
Viv Hamilton (talk) 17:57, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Abandoned Ships[edit]

Do Found but Abandoned ships count as shipwrecks for the classification "Shipwrecks in XXX Ocean" eg the Mary Celeste, later the MV Joyita and Kaz II. They obviously count as "Maritime incidents in 19xx" ie by year Hugo999 (talk) 01:11, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Issue with pics[edit]

All the pics in this article show shipwrecks above the sea, there is not one of a ship on the bottom, this could mislead the casual browser into thinking that shipwreck as a term only applies to wrecks on the surface, could a pic of a sunken image be included somewhere to address this problem?? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:21, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Well, if you think about it - for a land-based wreck, all one has to do is travel over to it, to snap their own picture from an every-day digital camera. A picture of a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea, however, involves the work of professional sea-based excursions involving sophisticated technology, and whose images are likely copyrighted. It really is too bad, I'll admit. --Nicholas Weiner (talk) 09:29, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

A second issue with the pics is that the Ocean Beach image does not actually show an image. It might be listed as such in Commons but it's clearly a yacht which is just beached at low tide, as is common when boats are moored in shallow bays. This image should be replaced with something more suitable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:34, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

The actual process of a sinking ship[edit]

Does anyone know if there are verifiable models for the process of a ship sinking? I've been looking around and all I can seem to find is information on why a ship sinks and what happens to the ship after it has sunk. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:12, 25 June 2010 (UTC)